The Hunt of the Unicorn: Tapestry Copies Made for Stirling Castle, Scotland

Beingessner, Amy
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University of Guelph

In 2014 the West Dean Tapestry Studio in England completed a commission for Historic Scotland, an agency of the Scottish government, to reproduce the late fifteenth-century Hunt of the Unicorn tapestry series on permanent display at the Cloisters Museum in New York City. The purpose of Historic Scotland’s reproductions is to heighten the tourist’s experience of authenticity in the Renaissance apartments at Stirling Castle, Scotland. This thesis explores Historic Scotland’s decision to reproduce The Hunt of the Unicorn tapestries for the renovation of Stirling Castle’s royal apartments, and how this representation of Scottish heritage and identity challenges traditional boundaries of authorship and authenticity. Applying the concept of the simulacrum, specifically through the writing of Jean Baudrillard and Gilles Deleuze, the Unicorn tapestries are analyzed based on the contexts and authorities that inform perceptions of their status as either copies or originals, revealing authenticity to be a perceived construction.

unicorn, hunt of the unicorn, tapestry, weaving, The Cloisters, Stirling Castle, living history, Scottish heritage, Historic Scotland, tourism, reproduction, copy, simulacrum, simulacra, original, authentic, authenticity